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Campo drug gangs ‘fusing into cartel’

Library image of the Strait of Gibraltar. Pic by David Parody

The seizure this week of nine tonnes of cocaine inside a container in the port of Algeciras, coupled to months of heightened drug trafficking activity across the Strait of Gibraltar, prompted a stark warning yesterday from an organisation rep- resenting Guardia Civil officers: some 30 criminal organisations could be joining forces in a cartel to boost their illicit profits.

The Asociacio´n Unificada de la Guardia Civil said the danger was the cartel was corrupting officials in order protect their shipments.

“No one would dare to ship such a large amount of drugs without the security of knowing it would reach its destination,” a spokesman for the AUGC said, referring to the nine-tonne cocaine haul.

“For that reason the time has come to take decisions.”

The AUGC also pointed to a sharp increase in drug seizures, which rose to 145 tonnes of cannabis resin in 2017 from 100 tonnes in 2016, a 45% rise that resulted too in 755 arrests.

“At this moment in time there are 30 gangs of drug traffickers with over 3,000 direct members,” the AUGC said.

“In the face of that, the shortage of law enforcement officers is obvious.”

The AUGC said the Algeciras headquarters of the Guardia Civil required at least 300 additional officers.

The association also underlined an increase in violence over recent months, with drug gangs “increasingly aggressive and acting with impunity”.

It said what was needed was a national agreement to boost law enforcement resources while also providing development plans to attract investment and create jobs in a region where unemployment runs at 40%.

The AUGC said law enforcement activity should focus not just on visible drug running, but also on the infrastructure used by the gangs to launder their illegal earnings, adding that investigations should focus on commercial and banking activities, as well as the life- style of known smugglers.

“The rule of law must stand firm with all its re- sources in the face of serious criminal activity that continues to increase,” the AUGC spokesman said.

Main photo: Library image of the Strait of Gibraltar, by David Parody

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